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In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is often portrayed as a helpless victim. Although the audience may think of him as a cruel villain, there is evidence hidden in plain sight that proves the exact opposite. In The Merchant of Venice, the audience is shown Shylock’s life as a Jew in Venice and how he is treated by others. Shylock is constantly spat on and called names and Shylock deals with the burden of having his only daughter running away from home to marry a Christian, taking some of his money and jewels with her. What is perhaps worst of all is the fact that Shylock is forced to become a Christian himself. It is through these events that we can truly see that Shylock is nothing more than a helpless victim.
In The Merchant of Venice, Jessica, Shylock’s only daughter, decides to run away to marry a Christian, taking some of Shylock’s jewels and riches with her. This event is seen as the main turning point in Shylock’s life and is what leads to Shylock’s resentment towards all Christians, particularly Antonio and Bassanio towards the end of the play. Shylock is heard complaining about this loudly in the streets of Venice, saying, ‘My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian!... Justice! Find the girl; She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.1’ Shylock is clearly distraught at the disappearance of his daughter and it breaks him to see his only daughter, the only family he has left, run off to marry someone he despises. At this point, Shylock is alone, with no family to support him. This leads Shylock to despise Christians even more, but now with a personal reason to fuel his hate. Shylock has lost everyone he loves and it is for that reason that Shylock is a mere victim, instead of the evil villain we all think he is.
Shylock also feels personally victimised by every single Christian that lives in Venice. Shylock has been called horrible names and even spat on for no reason but his faith. People hate him, just because he is Jewish. As Shylock describes it, Antonio frequently calls Shylock a ‘cutthroat dog2’, spits at him, and Antonio even kicks Shylock from time to time. Shylock is pushed...